Seniors redefining what ‘aging at home’ means to them

Planning for an aging loved one’s final years may feel like a scary or emotional conversation to take on. As a result, many seniors and their adult children often don’t take the necessary steps to plan for their final years of life, avoiding key issues like organizing financial affairs or creating plans for where their loved one will live as they age.

Most older adults – about 94 per cent – want to stay at home as they age. However, the definition of “aging in place” is evolving, with 25 per cent of older adults planning to relocate to a new home as they grow older. 

“We know how important it is for older adults to feel a sense of independence as they age, and for many, that comes from being able to stay in the same home where they raised children and created a lifetime of memories,” explains, Bruce Mahony, managing director of the Home Instead office serving Central Toronto. “But, we are also seeing a growing number of seniors who still seek a sense of independence by actively choosing a new home to live in as they age.

When seniors and loved ones are faced with the question of what’s best for them, it’s important to consider the effects of aging that could make certain areas of the home hazardous, such as:

• Agility and mobility. Conditions such as arthritis can impair mobility. Stairs that were once easy to navigate might now present a challenge.

• Balance. Neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and other chronic conditions increase the risk for balance problems, as well as falls on slippery floors and getting in and out of the bathtub.

• Eyesight. Studies indicate a 60-year-old needs at least three times more ambient light to see than a 20-year-old. Poor eyesight may make medication management and personal grooming difficult, and can lead to tripping hazards.

• Memory. The effects of memory loss might make it hard for an older adult to stay on a medication plan, remember to turn off stove burners or pay bills on time.

Regardless of whether a senior chooses to stay in their current home or relocate to a new one, aging in place remains a top request to maintain the freedom and independence that comes from defining what “home” means to them.

According to Margaret Gillis, president at the International Longevity Centre Canada, it’s important to remember that it is the senior who should make the call regarding where they live. “Loved ones can overreact sometimes to various safety issues, and except in extreme circumstances, it is the older person’s right to make the decision on whether to stay or leave the home.”

To help seniors make an informed decision on the best place to age, Home Instead is introducing Home Your Own Way, a new collection of free resources for seniors and their loved ones to navigate options and determine what “home” might look like for them. To learn more, visit homeyourownway.ca or, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office.